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Sometimes there are cases in a e-mail correspondence with academia staff (professors and bureaucrats) in which I don't know which is the best practice. I wonder if there is any best practice for the following cases:

Reply to a reply: when I ask for information via e-mail, and the reply gives me all the information I want, should I send an email just to thank them, or is this considered a bad, time-consuming practice?

How does a professor react to this kind of reply? And what about a bureaucrat (who maybe receives more e-mail)?

If I asked for an internship and he gave me a negative response, is not replying to him considered rude or normal?

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@user454322: Seriously, assuming that "Thanks in advance" replaces a thank you after the other party has put some work into sending you information would seem very rude to me. If anything, that may decrease your chances of getting any info from that person again (which a simple thank you e-mail, required or not, is unlikely to do, because the other party cannot complain about mere politeness). Note that some people with many mails are happy to receive a "concluding e-mail" that tells them they can now move that whole conversation thread into the "done" folder and be sure nothing more will ... –  O. R. Mapper May 14 at 5:23
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... follow up on that thread. –  O. R. Mapper May 14 at 5:24
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I asked a professor about this once, and they said not to reply with just "thanks", so I stopped doing it. Last week, a different professor asked me if I'd got their email, and told me I should reply "thanks", if I had. I think it's probably safer just to reply "thanks". –  daviewales May 14 at 15:39
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ha. This remind me the banner This question is protected to prevent “thanks”, “me too!”, and spam posts from new users. To answer it, you must have more than 10 reputation. –  user454322 May 15 at 12:12
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@NewWorld: It looks like you feigned politeness in advance to get what you want, and once you got your information, you drop that politeness and stop responding as there is nothing more for you personally to gain from that. It's like those restaurants that at first serve you within minutes to make a good first impression while you might still walk away, and once you've eaten and thus cannot decide against giving that restaurant any money any more, you have to wait for ages till you get the bill because the restaurant's gain (your payment) is already guaranteed, so they have no incentive to ... –  O. R. Mapper May 15 at 14:31

2 Answers 2

up vote 66 down vote accepted

To send a short mail saying thanks for a service provided is never wrong; in fact, it is good etiquette. Sending such a mail also serves as a receipt acknowledging you received the information. I recommend a very short mail; do not overdo it, the show of gratitude is enough.

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A big +1. Almost every single time I get such an email back, I automatically think very positively of the sender. –  Adnan May 14 at 6:40
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+1 Confirmation is key here. I often acknowledge that what they sent me was exactly what I needed and thank them. 1-2 quick sentences usually does the trick. In my opinion, this applies to all email communication, not just in the world of academics. –  Dryden Long May 14 at 17:17
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+1 for very short. –  Jukka Suomela May 14 at 19:18
    
If the person you're thanking didn't give you everything you needed, but their email led you to the right track, thank them and mention that, too. (A link may or may not be appropriate.) –  Brian S May 14 at 20:38

I always write a short thank email as an act of acknowledgement. If I spend my time answering someone's questions and don't get any response I would be very unhappy (luckily, it never happened). Don't worry about spamming the professors. They all know how to deal with mass amount of emails.

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